Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Aspects concerning the Crisis of Philosophy in the University System from Romania

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Aspects concerning the Crisis of Philosophy in the University System from Romania

Article excerpt

The present text discusses several aspects of the institutional crisis of philosophy in the Romanian educational system after 1989. On the one hand, at the level of university educational system, one may note the marginalization of philosophy programs, due to young people's decrease of interest for those specializations that do not provide immediate benefits for rapid integration in and well-paid jobs on the labor market. This entails direct consequences for the type of financing and creates functional difficulties in the university system. On the other hand, the diminution of the presence of philosophy at the level of high school curricula has given rise to a crisis manifested through the negative consequences on the necessity for humanist education of the young people, upon the social prestige of philosophy, and upon the possibility of philosophy graduates' insertion on the labor market.

Key Words:

the crisis of philosophy, religious education, philosophical education, applied philosophy, marketization of philosophy, national curriculum, Romanian university system

The Crisis of Humanities

The institutional crisis of philosophy in the Romanian university system1 can be better understood if we analyze it primarily against the background of the so-called "crisis of the humanities" that is being discussed in the American - and not only American2 - university programs. More generally, this crisis can be associated with the increasing discussions, from 1960 onwards, of several alternatives to disciplinarity - namely, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity.

Thus, speaking about the "crisis of the humanities" in 1999, Robert Weisbuch offered the following diagnose: "Today's consensus about the state of the humanities - it's bad, it's getting worse, and no one is doing much about it - is supported by dismal facts. The percentage of undergraduates majoring in humanities fields has been halved over the past three decades. Financing for faculty research has decreased. The salary gap between full-time scholars in the humanities and in other fields has widened, and more and more humanists are employed part time and paid ridiculously low salaries. The "job crisis" has existed for over a quarter of a century - no crisis, then, but a semi-permanent depression. As doctoral programs in the humanities proliferate irresponsibly, turning out more and more graduates who cannot find jobs, the waste of human talent becomes enormous, intolerable.

More broadly, the humanities, like the liberal arts generally, appear far less surely at the center of higher education than they once did. We have lost the respect of our colleagues in other fields, as well as the attention of an intelligent public: The action is elsewhere. We are living through a time when outrage with the newfangled in the humanities - with deconstruction or Marxism or whatever - has become plain lack of interest. No one's even angry with us now, just bored." 3

It is interesting to signal that the author situates the crisis at the level of postgraduate education, more precisely at the level of doctoral programs in literary studies. Thus, literary studies attract a good deal of attention reserved to the humanities; however, this can be readily applied to the situation of philosophy discussed in this paper. If only we replace "doctoral programs" with "university programs" and "the humanities" (i.e. literary studies in Weisbuch's article) with "philosophy", we will find his diagnose to be an accurate one for the present situation of philosophy as an academic discipline in the Romanian university system.

When we go on with Weisbuch's text and get to the solutions he envisions for this intolerable (in his view) situation, we find the following (summarized by Marjorie Perloff): "(1) to gather data on our departments, finding out where our graduates get jobs so as to insure better planning, (2) to "practice doctoral birth control," using Draconian means to cut down the number of entering graduate students, (3) to "reclaim the curriculum" by having all courses taught by full-time faculty members rather than adjuncts, (4) "create jobs beyond academe for humanities graduates, (5) "redesign graduate programs so as to accommodate the new community college market where teaching skills are more important than scholarly expertise, and (6) "to become newly public" - that is, to make better contacts with the so-called outside world"4. …

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